I recently traveled across Canada with my pal, a four-legged, 20-pound tuxedo cat with a bad attitude, and the worse thing, he talks, yes, you heard me, he speaks. Well, not in sentences, but NOW, NO, Mama, hello. Often when clients listen to him when we’re on the phone, they’ll ask if I need to tend to my child? “No, that’s my furbaby, I say.” He is that verbal.
I digress. We loaded up the car and headed west. How did it go, you ask? Pretty well.
Before we left, I phoned the hotels where I would be stopping for the night and asked if they were pet friendly? Was there a surcharge for pets? Many hotels charge for pets, in my experience, anywhere from $15-$30.00. Did they have outside access to the rooms? This one is handy; external access meant you could go directly out of your room for a walk or tie-up a leash to get some fresh air. After eight hours in a car, fresh air is essential.
Whether you’re moving across town or Canada, your animals/pets/furbabies have different needs than you and me; we can’t use words to soothe them and help them understand the chaos of change. But, with a few tips and strategies, we can help with the transition.
1) Check with your vet: There are so many new and different anti-anxiety meds for animals; they can help you choose the right one for your furbaby. At the same time, you can get a check-up. If you need to put your pet in a shelter, pet hotel, or even a hotel, you may have to show your vaccines and health records are up to date. I used a combination of wine (that was for me) calming spray; I’m not sure it helped? And nerve-calming tablets may have helped.
2) A collar with tags: Whether your animals are inside animals and never wear collars, or hate to wear collars, use a collar with tags even in a crate. Put your pet’s name and your cell number on the label.
Most animals can’t help themselves; given the opportunity to dash, they will. If your furry pal dashes, at least your name and cell phone number are on the tag for a faster reunion. Most pet stores carry name tags and engraving machines if you don’t have a name tag already. While at the vet, you may also want to consider microchipping?
3) Crate Your Animals During Travel: I agree with crating for some pets, but for Sylvester, he was happy to sit and look out the window; he’s a fairly chill guy. I placed his litterbox on the floor of the backseat. His food and water were on the floor of the passenger seat. And his favorite blanket was on top of a suitcase and a box on the backseat, allowing him a great unobstructed view of the open road, a bit of space, and clear areas for drinking, eating, and voiding. On a scale of 1 to 10 travel plan, it was an 8. All in all, once he was used to the long journey, he was fine.
Not all animals can travel this way, and you may need to use a crate. The number of cats and dogs that jump through open windows at a toll booth, for example, is more than you might think. Buy a big enough crate several weeks before you move or travel. Be sure to leave it open so your pet can get used to the smell and space. Most animals will eventually see their crate as a second home, a safe space. When you’re ready to leave, you may receive some resistance when the crate door is closed if you haven’t crate trained. Again, you know your pet best. I highly recommend if you are not using a crate, keep a leash handy, and put it on your pet before you open the car door or window. Trust me on this one; even my chill guy turned into Usain Bolt when the door opened.
4) Create a “Missing” Flyers BEFORE you need it: Making a flyer for a missing pet is a heart-breaking chore. And if you need to go searching through boxes and drawers for pictures, and you can’t get to your computer or the files for the details of your pet because they are packed away, it can be tough to make an accurate LOST PET flyer. Create and print one flyer before you head out and leave the location info blank until you need it. You can readily fill-in the location and have it photocopied on the fly. Be sure to include your cell number and another emergency contact number, just-in-case your phone is being used, or the battery is dead, or you’re out of cell service range. You’d hate to miss an opportunity to connect.
5) Register Your Pet(s): If your town, city, or county requires you to register your pet, do it. Register your pet; it’s worth it. Most communities have online registration where you can pay and have the tags sent to you. This way, if your pet evades you at your destination, the local shelters, SPCA, etc… will already have your information in the system and ready to reunite you.
It’s terrible to think you may get separated from your furbaby; you want to keep them safe, they’re family. Moving-time is a particularly vulnerable time when you’ll have lots to do, lots on your mind, and are easily distracted with the unfamiliar. Take a few precautions, and avoid the unthinkable.
After ten days on the road, we found ourselves in Kelowna. Overall, Sylvester handled the road trip well. Luckily, I only needed a leash; he was free to meander around the car safely. As an FYI, you will need to have your car detailed at the end of the journey; there was fur everywhere.
Good Luck with your move; I’ll be cheering for you.